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Harrisburg – May 28, 2020 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that the Senate has passed legislation (House Bill 1210) to drive out nearly $215 million to help school districts pay for costs associated with protecting children, cleaning buildings and modifying structures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a necessary infusion of cash to help school districts protect children and adjust the footprint of facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brewster said.  “School districts need additional funds to clean buildings, make social distancing modifications and purchase necessary equipment.”

Brewster said that nearly $200 million will be earmarked for school entities.  Each school district will receive at least $120,000, plus the districts will receive additional funds based on average daily enrollment of school districts — an additional $114 million will be available for distribution on a pro rata basis.  Career and technical schools, intermediate units and other schools will receive an allocation of $90,000.

The COVID-19 Disaster Emergency School Health and Safety Grants were previously known as the School Safety and Security Grant Program.  Brewster has served as a member of the School Safety and Security Committee distributing grants to school districts since its inception. 

The funding provided to school districts can be used for:  

  • Purchasing of cleaning and sanitizing products that meet Center for Disease Control (CDC) or Department of Health criteria;
  • Training and professional development of staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious disease;
  • Purchase of equipment, including personal protective equipment, thermometers, infrared cameras and other necessary items;
  • Modification of existing areas to effectuate appropriate social distancing to ensure the health and safety of students and staff;
  • Providing mental health services and supports, including trauma-informed education programs for students impacted by the COVID-19 disaster declaration;
  • Purchasing education technology for distance learning to ensure the continuity of education; and,
  • Other health and safety programs, items or services necessary to address the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

Brewster said that $150 million of the total funds to be distributed will come from federal CARES Act funding.  He said that in addition to the distribution to school districts, another $7.5 million will be used for community violence prevention grants.   There will also be $7.5 million available for intermediate units to address COVID-19 issues.

The bill returns to the state House for its consideration.